This week, the foodie news train jumps the tracks and takes off for a few off-the-beaten-path destinations.
First stop is Angier, where 20-year veteran chef Glenn Joslyn has opened Simon'z (25 S. Broad St.; 639-2569; www.simonz.us). The menu is mostly traditional American fare, with highlights including homemade chicken soup, classic meatloaf, honey-glazed ham and a double-thick pork chop stuffed with a country style cornbread dressing. The chef occasionally spices things up a bit, too, with specials such as a jalapeño-spiked Philly cheese steak and a Southwestern-style surf and turf. Simon'z is a family-friendly place, with a play area for kids and crayons available for drawing on the paper-draped tables. Joslyn hopes to offer entertainment for adults, too, in the form of live music on Friday and Saturday nights, once his beer and wine permits are approved.
Next, we'll swing by Clayton for a little souvenir shopping at Tre Colori (227 E. Main St.; 550-7466; www.trecoloriitaliangourmetfoods.com). Owner Rosanna Spinoccia, a native of Italy who moved to the Triangle from New York six years ago, opened the Italian gourmet food shop because "I got tired of not being able to find good Italian products in Clayton." That shouldn't be a problem, now that Spinoccia has stocked her shop's shelves with an impressive selection of imported cheeses, salumi, olives, pastas ("we've got every shape you can name"), sauces and other dry goods. And if you don't see what you're looking for, she'll order it.
Third stop on our itinerary is Garner, where Yvonne Hobbs has left her job as manager of the Waffle House after 30 years and teamed up with her husband, Wayne, to open Old Garner Road Diner (1340 W. Garner Road; 662-8730). The cuisine is traditional Southern, or as Wayne Hobbs puts it, "country cookin'." Whatever you call it, it translates to a daily changing offering of hearty home-cooked fare ranging from meat loaf to chicken and pastry to beef tips on rice, served with your choice of two vegetables (green beans, squash, cabbage, sweet peas and homemade mashed potatoes, to name a few recent examples) and hushpuppies for $6.25. The breakfast special is a bargain, too, serving up two eggs any style, sausage patty, bacon, grits, toast and coffee for $4.65.
At that price, I wouldn't be surprised if a few longtime regular Waffle House customers have changed their routines.
Then it's on to Knightdale for a little more shopping at the cleverly named fresh seafood market, A Net's Katch (2009 Village Park Drive; 217-0133; www.anetskatch.com). The shop's selection is extensive, according to the Web site, and includes tuna, salmon, shrimp, scallops, mahi mahi, catfish, flounder, oysters , crab legs, grouper, tilapia, crawfish, clams, mussels, lobster tails, calamari, lump crab meat "and much, much more." Given that owner Annette Brown once worked on a shrimp boat along the North Carolina coast, it's a good bet that the seafood is fresh, too.
The final stop before turning back for home is Wang's Bistro (877 W. Gannon Ave.; 269-9788) in Zebulon. Fortunately, Wang's is a Chinese buffet, so it'll be a quick stop. We'll want to get those soft shells from A Net's Katch home before the ice melts.